Eddie Conrad Act to Impose Higher Penalties for Distracted Drivers

January 04 2024 | Car Accident Lawyer Blog
  • 2024 Eddie Conrad Act and what it means for distracted drivers in Tennessee

    Beginning January 1, 2024, the Eddie Conrad Act, or Tennessee Senate Bill 589, is in effect to deter individuals under the age of 18 from driving distracted.

    In July of 2020, Eddie Conrad was killed in a car accident when he was rear-ended by a distracted driver, pushing his vehicle into oncoming traffic. After Eddie’s death, his family posted a billboard to raise awareness against distracted driving and have been helping to educate drivers about the dangers of driving distracted, as well as shedding light on other risky behaviors that are now all too common among Tennessee drivers.


    Distracted driving in Tennessee

    The United Services Automobile Association (USAA) reported that Tennessee ranked 8th in the first half of 2023 among states with the highest levels of distracted driving incidents.

    These incidents include texting while driving, phone calls, and other distractions that take away the drivers’ attention from the road and their surroundings.

    The Eddie Conrad Act is meant to deter drivers under 18 from engaging in such activities. It will now allow for harsher penalties under the law by adding additional points to the driving records for violations.


    Tennessee distracted driving laws

    Tennessee already has a Hands-Free Law. This law makes it illegal for a driver to:

    • Hold a cellphone or mobile device with any part of their body,
    • Write, send, or read any text-based communication,
    • Reach for a cellphone or mobile device in a manner that requires that the driver no longer be in a seated driving position or properly restrained by a seat belt,
    • Watch a video or movie on a cellphone or mobile device, and
    • Record or broadcast video on a cellphone or mobile device

    Tennessee enacted two additional laws in 2018 to target distracted driving, including a law to protect against distracted driving in school zones and another law requiring that headlights be either white or amber to avoid distractions.

    The Eddie Conrad Act takes Tennessee’s existing stance against distracted driving one step further by addressing repeat violations for those under 18 years old.


    The impact that the Eddie Conrad Act will have on Tennessee’s current laws regarding distracted driving

    The Eddie Conrad Act is specific to individuals under the age of 18 in Tennessee. This 2024 law increases the number of points that can be charged to someone’s driving record if they commit a second offense of distracted driving under the Hands-Free Law. Seven points will be added to the driver’s record for a second infraction, potentially resulting in a suspended license for up to one year.


    How the Tennessee points system works

    To understand this completely, it’s helpful to first understand how the Tennessee points system currently works to deter risky and dangerous driving actions.

    Tennessee uses a point system on driver’s licenses to track and address dangerous driving behavior. Different violations carry specific point values: minor offenses, such as slight speeding, result in one point, while severe infractions, like reckless driving, can lead to eight points being added to a driver’s record. Texting and driving, as an example of distracted driving behavior, currently has 3 points assigned under the Tennessee Schedule of Points Values.


    Driver’s license points per violation


    Speeding 1-5 miles per hour over the limit

    Number of Points Assigned: 1

    Speeding 6-15 miles per hour over the limit

    Number of Points Assigned: 3

    Speeding 16-25 miles per hour over the limit

    Number of Points Assigned: 4

    Failing to obey traffic instructions

    Number of Points Assigned: 4

    Failing to yield the right-of-way

    Number of Points Assigned: 4

    Making an improper turn

    Number of Points Assigned: 4

    Failure to report a crash

    Number of Points Assigned: 4

    Speeding 26-35 miles per hour over the limit

    Number of Points Assigned: 5

    Leaving the scene of a crash

    Number of Points Assigned: 5

    Speeding 36-45 miles per hour over the limit

    Number of Points Assigned: 6

    Reckless driving

    Number of Points Assigned: 6

    Violation of license or certificate restrictions

    Number of Points Assigned: 6

    Failure to yield to emergency vehicles

    Number of Points Assigned: 6

    Reckless endangerment by vehicle

    Number of Points Assigned: 8

    Texting while driving

    Number of Points Assigned: 3


    A full list of Tennessee point values is available from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.


    How the Eddie Conrad Act will impact the Tennessee point system for those under 18

    The Eddie Conrad Act states that a second or subsequent violation by a person who is younger than 18 years of age will result in seven (7) points being charged to the person’s driving record. However, it does not impact individuals who are 18 years or older, as those provisions were removed from the final bill.

    Consequences of points in Tennessee:

    • 6 points: Warning letter issued, informing you that another violation will result in suspension.
    • 12 points: Notice of proposed suspension with options to:
      • Appear in court: Contest the suspension, with potential consequences of a 6-12 month suspension if upheld.
      • Attend Driver Improvement Program: Complete a state-approved program to reduce points and potentially avoid suspension.
      • Accept suspension: Serve the suspension period without further action.


    There are slightly stricter consequences for Tennessee drivers under 18 years old


    Drivers under 18 in Tennessee who accumulate six or more points within a year are required to enter the Driver Improvement Program. They are also required to attend an administrative hearing where their driving record will be assessed and where their license may be suspended.

    The Eddie Conrad Act, for a second violation by a person who is younger than 18, adds 7 points to the driver’s record, thereby exceeding the 6-point threshold, which will then activate the requirement of the Driver Improvement Program and an administrative hearing for the individual in violation, potentially resulting the suspension of driving privileges for 6-12 months.


    Injured by a distracted driver?

    At Hughes & Coleman, we are encouraged to see Tennessee take additional actions to deter distracted driving and reduce injuries on the road, but we also know that the risks of being injured by a distracted driver will still exist.

    If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver in Tennessee, an experienced car accident lawyer from Hughes & Coleman Injury Lawyers can help you recover every dollar you’re entitled to. Our legal team has over 35 years of experience representing injury victims in Tennessee.

    Call us today
    for a free consultation.


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